Asia naphtha at near 5-month high on strong blending demand

23 May 2014 11:33 Source:ICIS News

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SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Asia’s open-spec naphtha prices rose further on Friday, hitting the highest levels in nearly five months as strong gasoline demand in West Africa fuelled blending in Europe, traders said.

The prompt first-half July contract settled up by 50 cents/tonne from Thursday to $975.50-977.50/tonne CFR Japan – the strongest levels since 2 January, ICIS data showed.

The burgeoning demand for blending has somewhat overshadowed a shift by some cracker operators in Asia to use more liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as feed given the latter’s price advantage over naphtha.

The first-half July/first-half August intermonth naphtha spread widened to a backwardation of $19.00/tonne from a backwardation of $17.50/tonne a day ago, ICIS data showed.

There are concerns of prevailing low arbitrage inflows from the West into the region, and Asia  may continue to face tight supply, the traders said.

Meanwhile, the crack spread strengthened to $148.73/tonne versus July Brent crude futures from $147.70/tonne on Thursday, they said.

By Felicia Loo